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Michael Cochran

Looking for a gunsmith

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I'm looking for either a traditional gunsmith or someone who can point me towards good references regarding welding a rifle barrel. I've done some looking and found a couple things, not very much, but I'm still looking.

I will say I'm not wanting this information to build a functional firearm as all I need is a barrel. I've had numerous people ask me about a 'gun barrel pipe hawk like that guy on tv made.' I would like to make a couple but don't know where to find a barrel and after days of searching eBay craigslist and looking locally I decided I'd try to make one myself.

I will not be upset or offended by admin if they decide this post has too much potential liability and removes it. 

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Well buying a chunk off a nontraditional gunsmith would probably be the fastest way. (I once bought 2 coffee cans of them at Quad-State for under a 10 spot.)

I googled "black powder gun barrels for sale" and the first page was full of them:  Dixie gun works, Green Mountain, Track of the Wolf; good names in the business!  But not cheap!

Got a friend in the police department that could torch off a barrel from a disposal piece?  Done right it could be good publicity about upcycling, etc

Once I took a piece of old rock drill shafting---round/sq/hex with a hole through the center; used in mining to drill holes for explosives and found at the scrapyards out here on a regular basis.  The older stuff is usually higher carbon than the newer stuff as they used the same material for the cutters as well as the shafting.  Anyway cut a length off it and cleaned out the hole with a drill/drillbit.  Forge welded the bit end closed, slit and drifted the handle eye. (First time to use my screw press for this---slit a solid high carbon steel shaft in 1 heat working from both sides using an S1 slitter I had forged.  Pretty much had a toolgasm...)  I drifted out the pipe bowl until I could work it on a bick and used a fuller to set it off from the shaft.  (not all these processes are in correct order here but some of that is the order may depend on YOUR tools, skills and preferences!)

NOTE you always check that the hole is clean BEFORE placing in the forge. I heard of one example where they had used an old drill as a tamper and had filled the center hole with explosive material that did not react well when placed in the forge; doubt that smith wanted to ask his wife to wash his bluejeans after that...but I bet they surely needed it!

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Thanks for the suggestions, Thomas, I have to admit I didn't think about a couple of those options. I don't know any cops myself as I try to stay out of trouble but my inlaws are friendly with one of the local sheriffs deputies so I might try to talk to him. I honestly don't know about any 'disposal pieces' around here since most of us here never dispose of firearms. They usually just get passed down to the kids even if they're worthless as anything more than a decoration. As far as the drilling shaft, I know nothing about it but I will be doing some looking.

I toyed with the idea of using black iron pipe instead with a piece of round bar welded in place down most of the length just so I had the extra material for clean up later but I really wanna stick to the 'correct' stock for the project if I can. I'll probably change my mind later and go with the easiest to find and work with.

I forgot about Dixie gun works. They are literally a couple miles away from some of my family in TN.

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Look for some competitive High Power Shooter in your area as some shoot enough to have to change barrels every year or other year.  Check the NRA sight and see if they have a listing of certified gunsmiths in your area who might change barrels on hunting rifles to change calibers.  X out Brownell's and Midway on line for blank barrels.   Find a local shooting/hunting club and ask about old barrels.  People have them, I've got a half dozen waiting for some imagined upcoming project.

Colonial Williamsburg has or did have a video on one of their people making a barrel for a muzzleloader.   

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I watched one this morning showing Wallace Gusler build a black powder rifle and enjoyed it. The biggest issue I had was that it was an hour long an only showed a few minutes of forge work. It did show him welding a barrel together so that was a plus.

Ill look into the suggestions you gave, notown, those are more ideas I didn't have.

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A piece of 3/4" pipe, schedule XXS, would be a close approximation of a muzzle loader barrel.

That should be about 1.050" OD ... and .434" ID.

 

.

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Thanks, SmoothBore, I'll see if I can find some of that. 

Thanks to Thomas's suggestion I have done some digging and found 7 gunsmiths (most of which I didn't know about) anywhere from 10 minutes away to a little over an hour away. I'll start calling them Monday and see if I can't find one that can help me out. I need to figure out a good thank you gift too just in case.

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I don't watch TV but old barrels and sections of barrels are usually littering gunsmith shops. I have a 5 gallon bucket back in CA full of various barrels that are all rusty after they were involved in a house fire. No good for anything other than projects like this.  Many times barrel blanks are bought longer than needed, then trimmed, so you should be able to find what you need. 

If all you need is an octagonal piece for a hawk, forge it to shape from some square bar. Four sides are already done for you, and that will help keep it looking more even.

As for the disposal guns. Many police departments will not sell off the confiscated firearms, but destroy them instead. I knew a guy back in CA that would get 400 guns at a time from the San Jose PD for destruction. He would cut the receivers for them, and he got to keep all of the other parts. He said the worst part was when he had to cut up a bunch of collectible Winchesters per a judge's orders. He told them they could sell them and pay for a new squad car, but they didn't care....judge's orders.

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You might contact Gun Parts Corp. They specialize in selling parts of both new and old / obsolete guns. They often buy nonfunctional firearms and part them out to gunsmiths looking for parts to restore firearms. They may have barrels that are in too poor or damaged shape to sell usually, possibly from police guns that have been cut/torched.

You can also try army surplus stores. I bought a new barrel for my 1903 Springfield that was a take off barrel from a 1903A3 Springfield from WW2 from one dealer.  The dealer had a whole barrel of these 30-06 arsenal rebuild barrels that he was selling to guys who wanted to build their own bolt action rifles. There used to be another dealer not to far away from me who would often get in "demilled" fire arms that he'd sell as kits for people who wanted to have say an MG 42 machine gun to display, but didn't want to go thru all the hassle of owning an operable machine gun. They'd buy a dummy reciever, then use the parts kit to make a realistic looking display. Often things like barrels were cut as part of the demill process and guys would buy 2 or 3 demilled barrels and cut and weld them back into one barrel that looked correct even if it was non functional.

Get yourself a copy of Shotgun News. There's usually dozens of full page adds of surplus dealers selling parts kits and so on. You might call and ask about generic barrel "parts" that they may not have listed in their add. Often these guys have all sorts of bits and pieces that come in when they buy this stuff bulk that they don't have an easy way to advertise or sell, and many times odd "useless' parts just get pulled out and scrapped.

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Make it easy on yourself go to your closest metals dealer and buy yourself a length of 1 inch heavy wall tubing it's not any different than a 50 caliber gun barrel  in looks only. you have a heavy wall tube with a 1/2 inch I.D. and a 1 inch O.D. that mimics a rifle barrel in looks that you can easily forge the body of a pipe hawk from . you just need a piece of round rod for a mandrel when forging the pipe section of the hawk head to keep the hole open .

 

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On 4/30/2016 at 11:43 AM, ThomasPowers said:

Yes you want to check any old guns or gun barrels for obstructions it is not uncommon to find old Muzzle loaders still loaded today and capable of firing! A fully loaded cannon sat in the Providence R.I. State House rotunda from the first battle of the Civil War till only about 15 years ago!

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On 5/8/2016 at 2:38 AM, Leon Renaud said:

Make it easy on yourself go to your closest metals dealer and buy yourself a length of 1 inch heavy wall tubing it's not any different than a 50 caliber gun barrel  in looks only. you have a heavy wall tube with a 1/2 inch I.D. and a 1 inch O.D. that mimics a rifle barrel in looks that you can easily forge the body of a pipe hawk from . you just need a piece of round rod for a mandrel when forging the pipe section of the hawk head to keep the hole open .

 

What he said.

Get a length and you will have a good supply.

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So far the only heavy wall I've found was at grainger at ridiculous prices. I haven't been able to go by my steel supplier yet so I don't know if they have it in stock or not. I'm still looking but I was told by the customer they weren't in any hurry since something unexpected came up and eat into their savings a bit, that said I'm not rushing it.

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Look at 1/2 schedual 80 pipe, just a hair over 1/2" and thick walled, you have to make a brouch to get red of the ridge inside. I think 3/4" schedual 80 could be forged down to an octagon for a more period gun barrel look. That would get you into the .68-.50 range, brouch to perfection.  

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If you purchase seamless pipe instead of ERW (electric resistance welded) it won't have a ridge inside.  I believe that ASTM A106 will do you.

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You know, if it was me, and I just wanted a few pieces, I'd be inclined to "fake it".

That is to say, ... Why not take an appropriate length of round bar, stick it in a lathe and counter-drill one end to the necessary depth, leaving the "blade" end solid ?

The end result would be indistinguishable from a piece that started out as a gun barrel.

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That's one idea. If I had a lathe I'd definitely go that route. I'm thinking about using my drill press and vice to drill it. 

Id like to add something here that really drives me crazy. If I call someone and I am forced to leave a message because nobody wants to answer the phone, why can't you have the decency to return my call? I hate leaving messages but I'm forced to on occasion and can't understand why people don't call back.

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